Today, a rabbit decided to make a nest just feet from my back deck. This happens to be the same place where I let the dogs out everyday, which makes me question the scent abilities of the bunny, but that is besides the point.
The point is that both Lainey (off-leash) and Pablo (who has been with me for about a month now and was on leash) were able to quickly divert their attention from the rabbit back onto me when asked.
Dogs have many drives. Two of the most powerful are prey drive and food drive.
As it sounds, prey drive is the instinctual need to chase something that is smaller, perceived as prey, especially if it runs away.
Food drive is a dogs willingness to work for food. Instinctually, this comes from dogs being hunters, and most dogs still will do anything if you have a piece of bacon in your hand.
But what happens when these drives compete?
Your dog chases down the street after a neighbors cat. Do they respond when you yell, “Fluffy, want a treat?”
Some of you might be able to say “yes” to that. Good for you, it’s the best!
Some might say, “sometimes yes, sometimes no, depends on the situation.”
And the truth is that most dogs wont respond to that 99% of the time.
Drives often compete. So how do you determine which one wins.
In my house, both of those drives can be quickly shut down by the word “off.”
Why does this work? Because the word “off” has been paired with a consequence. This consequence is meaningful, but still relatively low for each dog. This has been practiced in many situations and is necessary before a dog can be trusted off-leash.
All four quadrants of learning are important when training your dog. And each have a time and a place:
Positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and negative punishment. In the least scientific terms possible positive refers to adding something, while negative means taking something away. Punishment means it is diminishing the likelihood of recurrence, while reinforcement is increasing the likelihood of recurrence.
Positive punishment does wonders for creating impulse control, and for most dogs, cannot be matched when drives begin to compete.
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Tips, tricks, and lessons learned from Everywhere Dog and their journey!
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